See Something, Say Something

Q&A with Tacoma Public Schools Safety and Security Director, Mike Rupert

1. What is the "See Something, Say Something" campaign?

Mike Rupert: "This campaign is designed to raise community awareness that threats against a school are a crime and that threats should be reported immediately to the Tacoma Police Department. If you see anything we want you to say something, minor or major we need people to speak up."

2. So, if a parent or student or a community member sees a potential threat, what steps should they take?

Mike Rupert: "First and foremost, call 911. That's the quickest way to get an investigation started and get help where it's needed. Many people might know an officer as a friend, or a student might know their school resource officer. They might think to call that officer. But the best thing to do is to call 911 immediately."

3. What if someone doesn't see a gun or other type of weapon, but they hear a threat? Is that something that should be reported?

Mike Rupert: "Absolutely. It's not uncommon to hear of a threat without seeing a weapon. Making a threat against a school is against the law. And it's important every threat is reported, because you never know the level of that threat at the time. You don't need to have seen a weapon. Just having knowledge of a threat is important and should be reported immediately."

4. Some people could be concerned they will be "found out" if they made a report. What would you say to someone concerned about saying something out of fear of retaliation?

Mike Rupert: "Any call to 911 about a potential threat can be done anonymously. The "See Something, Say Something" campaign works best with the entire community and student body taking part, so we make sure everyone feels safe by allowing people to provide information without requiring them to give their name.

5. Some people might think that if they report something it will get ignored. Isn't the police department already busy with so many other things?

Mike Rupert: "It's true, the police are very busy. But the Tacoma Police Department, from the Chief of Police on down, has committed to following up on each and every reported threat to our schools."

6. Have the school district and police department seen positive results from this campaign in the past?

Mike Rupert: "Absolutely. There have been a number of positive results from this effort. Just last month we had an event at one of our high schools, where there were three students that came from another high school and somebody saw a weapon in a waistband and then it was put into a backpack. The police response to the situation was astounding, let me share the timeline.

In about two minutes (from the time the report was made) we had six TPD officers at the school. And in approximately four minutes they had the three suspects identified and being questioned. And in seven minutes they had the gun seized. So that all happened without incident."

7. How can parents, students and community members help?

Mike Rupert: "Keep your eyes and ears open. If you feel something is suspicious, report it. Keep an eye on social media. Many times, in the past, those who have caused harm in schools across the country have discussed their plans on social media prior to committing a crime. Know that there is no threat that is 'too small.' When in doubt, call 911 to report what you've seen or heard. The dispatcher and police can help determine the next steps. But the most important thing to do is call."


TPS Media Contact

Kathryn McCarthy, Strategic Communications and Marketing Manager | 253-571-1015 | kmccart@tacoma.k12.wa.us

About Tacoma Schools

Tacoma Public Schools is the only district designated an Innovation Zone by Washington State. A leader in implementing innovative schools and programs to meet the diverse needs of every student, every day, TPS serves approximately 30,000 students from preschool to grade 12 and at nearly 5000 employees is one of the largest employers in Tacoma. Learn more...


 

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